Dutch higher education institutions aim to provide the best possible support for their teaching staff, students, and researchers. It is very demanding for the institutions to organise their operations and software applications, but also their technical systems, so as to provide optimum support. This is not easy because of the wide variety of internal target groups: students (both Dutch and foreign), teaching staff, lectors (who organise knowledge networks), and professors.
Institutions increasingly aim to provide individualised arrangements for all these target groups as regards the format, location, and time at which teaching/learning and research take place. Doing so allows them to provide the best possible service. Besides internal target groups, the institutions also collaborate with a large number of external parties, for example the DUO/IB Group (which deals with such things as student grants), the Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO), the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU), and the Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences [HBO-raad]. Proper coordination with the processes and information provided by these parties increases the internal efficiency of the institution itself.
Keeping a grip on the organisation
The information society is becoming more and more complex, and education institutions are affected too. Keeping a good grip on the organisation is therefore necessary. Information architecture can provide pointers. Architecture specifies the relationship between strategic targets, operational processes and information provision, and the software applications used in support of all these.
If they understand the architecture, institutions can deal quickly and flexibly with changes in their processes. This also helps when purchasing new systems and applications. An example might be when amendments to legislation and regulations lead to process changes, which in turn can lead to changes in applications. New technical developments also lead to the acquisition of new applications.
An institution that has specified its architecture is in a better position to assess and deal with the consequences of a change. SURF therefore promotes the development (and further development) of architecture in education, as well as architectural thinking.
We organise regular presentations and discussion meetings on the topic of information architecture so as to help institutions develop architecture and to promote architectural thinking.
There are various standard approaches and methods, world-wide, for specifying and developing information architecture. SURF encourages higher education institutions to make use of the following methods:
Both these architecture development methods are open access. Institutions that apply these methods have a complete toolbox for working under an architecture.
Wouter de Haan, programmamanager T 030 234 6600